These days, the news is a steady stream of somber statistics, sound bites, and stories. Energized by longstanding grievances and fueled with the uncertainty of a world immersed in pandemic with no end in sight.
Over time, hearing the news wears on me. Pulls me down. Makes me want to flip the switch. Tune out. When I reach that point, much to my surprise, I hear people around town voicing something similar. This makes me wonder, what’s going on?
I think, could it be that people, attempting to cope, are leaning away from the common circumstances of day? Frustrated and weary, might they be seeking diversion in marches? Gaining emotional release by arguing about the relative merits of face coverings, social distancing, and herd immunity? Finding some semblance of solace in kindness- campaigns, patio-get-togethers, camping, gardening, and so on?
Then I wonder, might there be a more productive way to cope? What if, rather than each of us individually leaning away from shared circumstances, we’d collectively and intentionally lean into the common good? Replace diversion with civil engagement? Bring compassion and empathy, not vitriol? Find the good and praise it?
After which, I ask myself is this impossible? To which I reply, I think not. Why? Because Estes Park, located in the beautiful mountains of northern Colorado, is a relatively small community. Its townspeople have repeatedly shown capacity for coming together to meet challenges. Certainly, covid-19, the current challenge, is undeniably affecting all aspects our lives—socializing with friends and family, attending church, making money, paying bills, realizing dreams, getting married, celebrating graduation, and much more. However, coping with this reality by diverting attention elsewhere, while possibly an effective tactic short term, is in the long run an unwise strategy for individuals and their town.
Here’s why. The nature of Estes’ tourist based economy necessitates welcoming people from all corners of the globe—some with little concern for the welfare and safety of the people who live and visit here. A troubling tendency, Covid-19 makes more troublesome, possibly lethal. Putting front-line workers—our neighbors, friends and acquaintances—at needless risk. Threatening the safety and health of the very people whose daily efforts ensure continuance of the way of life each of us love and cherish. Estes Park is what it is because waitresses, customer service workers, gift shop and hotel workers, business owners, first responders, police, recreation guides, clergy, medical professionals, dentists, grocery store clerks, massage therapists, hairdressers, teachers, and others go to work each day.
Thanks to what they do and the risks they take, we are safe and healthy.
Do what you must to cope, divert attention elsewhere if that helps. But please take time each day to consider what the frontline workers are doing for you and for Estes. Mentally walk in their shoes. Ponder the risks they take. Actively listen to what they say. Offer up help when appropriate. Express gratitude for sacrifices being made. Say thank you.
Estes Park is unique. A special bond permeates this place. Let’s keep that bond strong.